Where to Eat and Drink for Rising

Updated June 20th, 2023

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Rising is upon us with its third eclectic program of dance, music, theatre, cinema, sculpture and more. With 400 artists performing across 185 separate events, the festival will see the CBD come to life over 12 days and nights (June 7 to June 18).

This year the winter festival’s events take place within a smaller area, making it easier to jump between a quick drink and bite, a show, a full dinner, and back out to another show. The main cluster is around Flinders Street Station, Federation Square, Birrarung Marr and the Arts Precinct.

Whichever events you’re aiming to catch, it’s best not to leave your food and drink plans to chance. It might be hard to find somewhere that isn’t packed. This guide should help get your planning started.

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Moon Bites

This early drink and snack offer (from 5pm–6pm every night) features custom, all-inclusive snack menus to send you off into the night feeling good.

  • Try Nomad’s dedicated bar menu during Rising. To complement dishes like hot smoked fish with apple, witlof and Yarra Valley salmon caviar, there’ll be a cocktail made in collaboration with Archie Rose Distilling Co. Walk-ins are welcome, or book your seat up at the bar online.

  • Rising is a perfect excuse to try Hazel, a refined two-floor restaurant on Flinders Lane. It’s offering a set menu ($55pp) from Wednesday to Saturday throughout Rising, which includes a charcuterie plate, maple-roasted carrots, mussels, and a glass of pét-nat. It’s central, so you can head straight to a show afterwards. But not before booking a table.

  • Everything at Andrew McConnell’s all-day eating house is delicious. And throughout Rising, you can sample it through a special set menu ($60pp), which includes an aperitif, a snack, a seasonal main, and a glass of co-founder Jayden Ong’s Moonlit Forest wine. There’s a vegetarian alternative, too.

  • Eau de Vie is up there among the world’s best bars, with its theatrical cocktails, world-beating whisky list and European-inspired snacks. All this is on offer throughout Rising. Enjoy a set menu ($60pp) of five montaditos (Spanish open sandwiches), one of which is topped with roasted capsicum, anchovy and tomato tapenade. They’re paired with a Mandarin Spritz cocktail and, later on, the bar’s theatrical Espresso Zabaione. Bookings essential.

    Book a Table
  • Victoria highlights the best of the state’s food, drink and art in a sprawling riverside venue. And it’s right among the CBD’s main Rising hubs in Federation Square. Book a seat on the terrace and enjoy a set menu ($65pp) of roasted Jerusalem artichoke soup, pine mushroom rosti, and a smoked O’Connor beef cheek roll, all alongside a glass of Victorian wine, beer or soft drink.

  • This fun restaurant showcases the best of Indigenous ingredients and cuisine right in Federation Square. For Rising, it’s also serving up Australian gins infused with native ingredients. Enjoy your gin tasting with gluten-free canapes – including namas (a coconut-cured fish), kangaroo tartare, and taro hash brown with yam pate and crispy saltbush. Book your spot online before, and make the most of its central location after.

  • Head upstairs to Bar 133, a moody cocktail bar, for a dedicated pre-dinner menu for two ($60). Throughout Rising, it’s paying tribute to the moon with half a dozen oysters with champagne mignonette, and two Gibson Martinis. Book ahead, and enjoy the short stroll over to Melbourne Town Hall afterwards for Euphoria.

Dine at Dusk

For Rising’s Dine at Dusk program, three venues (plus one already sold out) are running a multi-course set menu on a specific day – with limited places available. What’ll it be?

  • This is one of Melbourne’s best Japanese restaurants. On Sunday June 11, you can book one of just 12 seats upstairs for its intimate chef’s table in collaboration with Rising. Watch as executive chef Yonge Kim prepares a delicate multi-course feast with a strong seafood focus ($200pp, 10 per cent Sunday surcharge). Bookings are essential, and seats here often sell out, so get in quick.

  • A full meal at Mabu Mabu is a brilliant way to enjoy Indigenous ingredients and cuisines. Book in for four creative courses ($90pp) on Wednesday June 14, which might include pepper-leaf-smoked emu or fried crocodile. Contact Mabu Mabu to secure your spot.

  • Hazel is a pared-back eatery that stretches over two floors of Flinders Lane’s historic Richard Allen & Son. And it’s hosting a dedicated four-course feast ($150pp) for Rising on Wednesday June 14. Enjoy a cocktail on arrival before tucking into an elaborate menu that celebrates seasonal ingredients and low-waste cooking. Bookings are essential.

Midtown

  • Hidden in a city carpark, this Thai street-food spot has become a cult Melbourne favourite. Brave the queues for aromatic boat noodles, spicy papaya salads, crying tiger (slow-cooked and grilled beef brisket), mixed Thai hotpot and more. Plus, BYO wines from the natural wine shop next door.

  • Open till very late on weekends, this swish, marble-clad bar and diner is your first port of call at the five-storey Pacific House building. Come for Mediterranean-inspired plates and tapped cocktails before hitting the rooftop.

  • Small, lively and theatrical, this barbeque-powered Thai restaurant is a top spot to try dishes from all over the country, paired with highly complementary beers, wines and cocktails.

  • Cookie combines rowdy European beer hall with standout Thai food that beckons to be shared. It’s fun, versatile and subtly influential, preceding similar restaurants like Chin Chin. Bring a crew, order the banquet and plan to drink.

    Book a Table
  • A neon-lit Thai diner serving dishes rarely seen outside the country. Order punchy betel leaf wraps, caramelly mackerel and ant larvae soup. Plus, there are lo-fi Australian wines and disposable cameras to capture your night.

    Book a Table
  • There are still constant queues during the dinner rush at this buzzing Thai diner. The pay-off is some of Melbourne’s best (and spiciest) Thai food, including more than a dozen kinds of papaya salad, a crowd-pleasing tom yum with instant noodles and mookata, the signature hotpot-barbeque hybrid.

  • You’ll find some of the best dumplings in town in an arcade off Chinatown. Don’t let the long line deter you. The staff at this stripped back, all-day Chinese diner keep the queues moving quickly. Shandong is known for its seafood so be sure to add a plate to the order.

  • Supper Inn is a BYO Melbourne institution. Just ask Melbourne’s top chefs.

  • Offering no-nonsense Cantonese dining in the heart of the CBD, Ling Nan has been satisfying Melbourne’s late-night cravings for around three decades. New location, same must-order XO pippies.

  • Shujinko is as close as you’ll get to Tokyo in Melbourne’s Chinatown. At this unpretentious noodle house, you can enjoy Tonkotsu-style ramen until late seven days a week. Some gyoza, beer and sake also come recommended.

  • Cheap, delicious and fun, as all great malatang joints should be. Fill your golden pot with meat, tofu, noodles and vegetables from the self-serve fridge, then bathe your spoils in hot-and-sour Sichuan-style broth.

  • Parcs walks the talk on sustainability. The wine bar and diner uses leftover produce from its sibling venues. And an ex-Brae chef transforms it into inventive dishes (like mandarin-and-watermelon kimchi) for 12 menus per year.

  • Walk down the nondescript staircase and let your eyes adjust. There’s no natural light at this New York-inspired French bistro – that’s why it’s so easy to lose track of time here. It's also home to one of Melbourne's most famous late-night burgers.

  • This sultry sibling to Sunda is every bit as stellar. The menu effortlessly blends Southeast Asian flavours, native Australian ingredients and ancient techniques.

  • Starting in the 1940s as a place for migrant waiters to unwind after a shift, this Melbourne icon still serves reliably good pastas and desserts. There’s nothing fancy here – just good wine in glass tumblers, humble family-run hospitality, and a chalkboard menu of hearty Italian classics.

Flinders Street and Surrounds

  • Venetian elegance, New York energy and Melbourne nostalgia collide at restaurateur Chris Lucas’s lavish brasserie and grill. Settle into the grand dining room for charcoal-fired bistecca, show-stopping tiramisu, quintessentially Italian cocktails and lots of tableside theatrics.

  • Beautifully executed Japanese (and other east Asian cuisines) by celebrated chef Andrew McConnell. Come for Melbourne's most famous lobster roll, steaming bowls of ramen at lunch, Korean-style barbequed meats and Shanghai dumplings.

    Book a Table
  • Moving from Collingwood to the city has only taken this energetic Chinese restaurant to greater heights. Find the discreet entrance off Flinders Lane, then settle in for elegant, big-flavoured dishes drawing influence from all corners of China.

  • Pastuso brings Peruvian flair with a menu of ceviche, grilled meat and plenty of pisco. The dining room is a riot of colour, but we say grab a seat at the marble-clad bar and take in all the action, Pisco Sour in hand.

  • It’s tricky to pin down Coda’s flavour-punching dishes. Modern Asian? Euro-Vietnamese fusion? Pop in pre-theatre for some scallops and a glass of wine, or do your next special occasion here. Coda is supremely versatile, and one of Melbourne’s best.

  • The flavours at celebrity chef Shane Delia’s opulent Maha are familiar, but they’re assembled with more finesse than your average Middle Eastern restaurant. Vibrant mezze, a must-have lamb shoulder and an affordable wine list make this a winner for group dining.

  • Indian flavours are far too uncommon at the top-end of dining, an issue Tonka has been smartly redressing for years. The wine list is a cracker, but we're more partial to the smart cocktail menu and its wealth of refreshing, South Asian-inspired mixes.

    Book a Table
  • The restaurant responsible for igniting Melbourne's love for modern Spanish food.

  • An authentic tapas experience.

  • This lively cantina is all about home-style Mexican. Expect beef tacos exactly how they’re served in Mexico, prawn-and-chorizo tamales and a jiggly chocolate flan. Plus: eight different Margaritas and hard-to-find agave spirits.

  • Top-quality sushi and sashimi since 1981.

  • Andrew McConnell's signature flair is all over this grand bar and dining room, from the exacting service to the comforting European dishes. It’s named after the classic cocktail, and the calibre of drinks here speaks to that. You’ll find us at the marble bar, Gimlet in hand.

    Book a Table
  • The CBD sequel to restaurateur Rinaldo Di Stasio's St Kilda institution goes just as heavy on the hand-made pastas. But it also throws high art into the mix, with video installations and dramatic artworks lining the walls of the restaurant’s brutalist, contemporary interior.

Melbourne Arts Precinct

  • Asado is Spanish for roast. And that’s exactly the focus at this tan-leather-filled restaurant, which showcases grilled meats and big flavours. From the team behind San Telmo, Pastuso and Palermo, Asado encourages you to share a spread of tapas as well as meat, seafood and vegetables charred on the parrilla.

  • French dining from renowned chef Guillaume Brahimi.

    Book a Table
  • The cult US burger giant's first location in Melbourne. Drop in for burgers starring double handmade patties (with free choice of toppings), daily-cut fries, hot dogs, shakes and more.

  • Single malt, creative cocktails and beers on tap will lure you riverside.

  • Unwind before or after the the theatre.

West End

  • Descend to the sprawling and busy basement for a menu that honours classic Thai street food. Bring a group and enjoy the share-plate menu that includes pad thai, whole fish soup, seafood platters, papaya salads and plates of barbequed meat. And enjoy the novelty of cat-faced robots serving your food.

    Book a Table
  • This venue from the European Group is not quite a pub, not quite a wine bar. And it’s open late.

  • Taking cues from the trattorias of northern Italy, Emilia has you covered for all occasions. Do a casual lunch of tagliatelle alla bolognaise, or come later for a degustation featuring main dishes inspired by Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region. It all comes together in a rustic, timber-clad space.

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  • Tasia and Gracia Seger might be reality TV stars, but their Indonesian restaurant proves their talent is definitely not just for show.

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  • A Taiwanese eatery specialising in soup dumplings.

  • This casual, colourful laneway diner transports you to the streets of India.

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  • After all these years, moody Tipo 00 still attracts queues of people hoping for a taste of its simple yet meticulously assembled pastas. A couple of secondi and dolci also grace the menu, alongside salumi best enjoyed at the marble bar, spritz in hand. Make sure you arrive early – very early – if you don’t have a booking.

  • Eyal Shani’s Israeli pita haven came to Melbourne, via Paris and Vienna.